Kerala, bordered by the Arabian Sea in the west, Western Ghats towering 500-2700 m in the east and networked by 44 rivers, enjoys a unique geographical features and rich tradition and culture that attract tourists from all over the world.
Even though small in size, Kerala with its beautiful waterfalls, mesmerizing waterfalls, lush hill stations, exotic wildlife, delicious cuisines, magical festivals, ancient cultural monuments and enchanting art forms, prove that it is really the ‘God’s own country.
1 The Backwaters
The most unique attraction of Kerala is backwater tourism. Backwaters are the network of waterways, estuaries, lakes, inlets and natural canals that connect the coastal regions of the state.
Travelling in traditional houseboats known as “Kettuvallam” through the backwater enjoying the beauty and greenery of the nature is a thrilling experience that refreshes your body and soul. These huge, slow moving, exotic barges designed for sheer leisure trips provide all the luxury amenities and facilities for the tourists for a comfortable and enjoyable vacation. The most famous backwater destinations in Kerala are Kumarakam, Kuttanadu, Kollam, Kottayam, Veli, Thiruvananthapuram, Thiruvallam, Eranakulam etc.
Vallam kali (Boat race), a seasonal water sports conducted in the backwaters of Kerala is also an exclusive tourist attraction in the state. Long specially designed and decorated boats that can carry up to 100 people are used for these boat races. Some of the famous boat races in Kerala that are famous worldwide include Champakkulam Moolam, Aaranmula Uthrattadi, Nehru Trophy, Payippad Jalolsavam, Kumarakom, President’s Trophy, Kallada and Neerettupuram etc. Even foreigners visit Kerala during the season of these boat races.
2 The Beaches
Located on the bank of Arabian Sea, Kerala has a 600 km long shoreline dotted with some of the finest, most charming and internationally known beaches of the world. These pleasant and serene beaches bordered with coconut trees are the favorite destinations of domestic and international tourists. With the beautiful stretches of clean sand and rippling waves, the beach destinations in Kerala are known throughout the world. The beaches also provide opportunities for various adventurous sports activities like fishing, sailing, skating and diving etc.
Varkala, Kovalam, Marari, Kappad, Shanghumukham, Veli, Bekkal etc are the popular beaches of Kerala. Several massage centers and Ayurvedic spa centers are functioning in these beach areas that provide the services of qualified and experienced staff. The restaurants near these beaches serve delicious seafood cuisines that are the trademarks of Kerala tourism.
3 The Temples
Kerala is rich with numerous ancient temples, which are not only the pilgrim centers, but also the favorite tourist attractions. There are several huge and very old temples in Kerala are well-known for its architecture, historical importance and rich tradition.
Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of the state, is known as the city of temples because the city alone homes hundreds of sacred temples. Shree Padmanabha Swami temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Shabarimala Ayyappa temple in Pathanamthitta, Guruvayoor Shri Krishna Temple in Thrissur, Chottanikkara Bhagavati Temple in Eranakulam, Attukal Bhagavathi Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kottiyoor Shiva Temple in Kannoor, Vaikam Mahadeva Temple, Vadakkumnathan Temple in Thrissur are some of the famous ancient temples in Kerala.
Apart from the daily worships and rituals, most of these temples have grand festivals (Utsavam or Pooram) every year. The long of row of several elephants decorated with ornaments and umbrellas of various colors and designs as well as chenda melam (A traditional orchestra used in temples) are the highlights of the temple festivals, which are really a feast to the eyes.
Thrissur Pooram, the famous festival held in Shri Vadakkumnathan Temple Thrissur, is one of such festivals. Lots of tourists from outside India visit Kerala during these festival seasons of famous temples.
4 The Monuments
The coastal line that stretches across the whole western border of Kerala, made this land the important trade center in Asia. Many foreign traders including Arabs, Dutch, Portuguese and Europeans came to Kerala through sea and it resulted in colonialism and foreign invasion. You can see many ancient forts, palaces, churches etc as the monuments of that period. The colonial architectural features present in these monuments reveals the influence of foreigners in the culture of Kerala.
Anjuthengu Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, Bekal fort in Kasargod, Thalasseri Fort in Kannur district, Palakkad Fort, Kanur Fort, Gundart Bunglow in Kannur district, Hill Palace museum in Kochi, Synagogue in Matttanchery, Padmanabhapuram Palace in Thiruvananthapuram, Dutch Palace in Mattanchery, Kanakakunnu Palace in Thiruvananthapuram are some of the famous historical monuments in Kerala that symbolizes the various dynasties and communities existed in Kerala in different period.
5 The Cuisines
Kerala is also famous for various delicious cuisines, which include veg and non-veg dishes. The most famous and unique Kerala food that is prepared for special occasions and festivals like onam, vishu and wedding etc is called Sadhya.
Sadhya , the special food of Kerala , is a pure vegetarian buffet, which consists of around 24 items and Sadhya is served in banana leaf in the traditional style. Each item should be served in a particular position in the leaf. The dessert called Payasam is also served at the end of the sadhya.
Kerala biriyani, especially made in Thalasseri region (known as Thalasseri biriyani) is famous for its unique taste and flavor. Kerala biriyani is a traditional food served by Muslim community for their special functions.
Kerala is also famous for wide varieties of breakfast items like puttu, vellayappam, palappam and idiyappam, dosha etc. You can also taste some exclusive snack items such as pazhampori, parippu vada, unniyappam, ada etc in Kerala tea stalls. The other special food item available here is Kappa (tapioca), which is a good combination with fish curry. As Kerala is a coastal region, the seafood here also have high demand among tourists.
6 Traditional art forms in Kerala
Kerala is a heaven for all types of arts including dance, music, paintings and drama etc. There are a number of traditional and classical art forms in this small state that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Kathakali, the mix of dance and drama, is the most famous art form in India that is famous world wide. Koodiyattam, which got UNESCO recognition, is the pride of Kerala. There are many other art forms in this small state such as Nangyar Koothu, Chakyar Koothu, Ottan thullal, Krishnattam, Mohiniyattam, thiruvathirakkali, Theyyam, Yakshaganam, Poothan thira, Thidambu nritham, pulikkali, pooram kali.
The Muslim art forms like Oppana, Daff muttu, Aravana Muttu and Kolkali etc are also interesting to watch. Margam Kali, which is a Christian art form seen only in Kerala.Kerala Kalamandalam, the most famous institute for Kerala classical art forms, homes even several foreign students.
Kerala State School Kalolsavam, the competition of the district level winners in various traditional and classical art forms, is the biggest festival as such in Asia. of All religions in Kerala have their own traditional art forms.